Our temporary play zones (TPZs) bring people together to imagine and create collectively.TPZs invite passersby to engage in a creative mission in an unexpected public place located in what we term “border zones”-- those invisible frontiers that affect residents’ movement.  In play, people explore their visions of the future and of other plausible worlds, while the border zones become momentarily shared places. 

TPZs are designed to be collaborative, immersive, irresistible and aesthetically appealing to people of multiple ages, interests, and backgrounds. In and through them, players create alternative, fantastical worlds, where it becomes possible to step outside immediate realities, and momentarily explore different ways of being and relating to each other and the world.  Currently, TPZs occur in the greater Boston area and are designed with multiple collaborators.


Public play date 

Department of Play held its first public play date in Dec, 2013. Organized with ten collaborators, the daylong events began with "It's Summer Somewhere," a felt-flower-making workshop. The flowers were left throughout Boston's Chinatown neighborhood for residents to discover. Then, "Crosswalk Cinema" kicked off with shadow-puppet-making. Puppets became part of a momentary stage set at a busy intersection, where headlights from cars stopped at a red light served as stage lighting and crossing pedestrians' shadows mingled with the puppets'.

block party 

In Oct, 2014, Department of Play collaborated with the Mobile Museum of American Artifacts to enlist residents’ imagination in constructing prototypes for Mars during BLOCK PARTY. Large, custom-made foam blocks invited Somervillians to consider key built elements for the first Martian dwellers. The blocks allow free interpretation through multiple points of connection. Residents, some so young they could barely walk and some old enough to have grandchildren, continually connected individual creations to form larger environments.


Boxtopia: Boston 2130

On June 7th, 2015, hundreds of cardboard boxes appeared on a vacant lot in Codman Square. Residents of Codman Square used the boxes to build their visions of what Boston will look like in 115 years. Residents didn’t realize that as their visions took shape, they had inadvertently built a time portal! The Minister Play from 2130 appeared on site, disoriented about the present where he had arrived to, and not sure that he could return to his future. To help him in his quest, on June 8th, the Minister of Play boarded the Fairmount commuter train and asked passengers to help him reconstruct his future.